How to build the ultimate 4wd

How to build the ultimate 4wd

What is the perfect 4wd? Maybe it’s an old 40 series Landcruiser with a milk crate for a seat? Or maybe it’s not complete without an electronic traction button for every scenario? Is an 8 inch lift better than a 2 inch? And mud tyres are always the best choice right?

One thing that sets 4wding apart from other past times is the massive number of ways to build your perfect vehicle, and there is never a definitive answer on the best way to do it. Whether you are new to 4wding, or have just moved into a different truck; I hope this blog post might help to make the right mods and save you a bit of money in the process.

Step 1:

It's a tough truck for sure! But it's no use for touring when you need to trailer it everywhere!

It’s a tough truck for sure! But it’s no use for touring when you need to trailer it everywhere!

First up, go out and grab yourself some recovery gear if you don’t already have some. Just the basics; a snatch strap, two shackles and a shovel will do the trick for now. Now get out there! Choose a place that will subject you to all types of terrain. This will help you decide what you enjoy driving on, what your 4wd does well, and what could be improved. Make a big list of things you would like to improve, in order from most to least important and bring that back home with you.

Step 2:

So you weren’t all that interested in the rock hopping and steep hill climbs your mates were doing, but you loved the long gravel roads and seldom used access tracks? Well while you were enjoying a cruise along the beach, old mate behind you with the 6 inch lift and massive tyres was battling to keep that beast in a straight line. My point is that you need to choose your mod’s appropriate to what you intend to do. This is the research point, and it’s one part you don’t want to rush. Get it wrong and you could be spending big money to change your setup later down the track. Talk to other 4wders with a similar setup, pop into a local 4wd shop and have a chat, and search internet forums for reviews and opinions. Some of the most necessary items could include:

  • A bullbar. Decide now whether you will want a winch. Non-winch bullbars are cheaper, but to no benefit if you have to buy a winch bar later anyway.
  • Quality tyres. Light Truck construcion and appropriate to the terrain you drive the most. If you want to go larger tyres, consider the suspension lift you may need to accommodate them.
  • Suspension. Standard suspension is always lacking. Only go as high as you need to, and choose springs rated to carry the extra weight you will require.
  • Driving lights. What type to go for here needs another page to explain, and I have found such a page: Here
  • UHF Radio. Communication makes traveling in convoy easier, and traveling along safer. Many styles available to suit your mounting location.
This stock Jimny did a few outings finding it's limits

This Jimny did a few outings as a stock vehicle

After a few trips finding the little Suzuki's limits, it was eventually built into a very capable toy

After a few trips finding the little Suzuki’s limits, it was eventually built into a very capable toy

Step 3:

Tell the wife you are going shopping for her birthday, anniversary or just because you love her. Make sure to point out it will take a whole day, and you’ll be needing the trailer to transport the enormous volume of handbags. With freedom ticket obtained, head out for a big day of pricing around and crossing stuff off your list! DO NOT forget to actually buy something for your beloved!

Second hand is also an excellent way to go. Keep an eye out for the bloke who didn’t listen to me in step 2 and is selling that non-winch bullbar for half what he paid. Some absolute bargains can be had.

Concealing the days spoils is the tricky bit. Maybe you could hide it at a mate’s place? Or just tell the wife it’s a big surprise for her birthday, and when the day comes around just say it must have shrunk in the rain….

Tip: Try and plan your big day of shopping for a 4wd or camping show. You get all the vendors for the gear you want, all in the one place and all going head to head for your dollar. I have saved (and spent) a lot at these shows! Try the 4WD and Adventure Show , Perth Caravan and Camping Show and the National 4×4 & Outdoors Show.

Step 4:

Getting the gear onto the vehicle. This bit can be fun, or a real headache depending on your skills and tool collection. It’s up to you to decide what to fit yourself, and what to leave to the professionals. For the bits you do yourself, take your time and install things in an order that makes everything easier. For example, install wiring for your spotlights while you have the bumper removed to fit your bullbar, and run wiring for all of your accessories at the same time to keep it neat. For the bigger jobs like fitting a bullbar or suspension, consider heading to the bottle-0 for a couple of cases of your mates favourite beer. Crack one of them open; and help will be knocking on the garage door in no time!


After you are all done and dusted, know that you will never be likely to finish your vehicle. There will always be some handy new mod you come up with, and some new bit of gear on the market. I have owned my patrol for 5 years now, and while the list of mods I have done is as long as my arm, the list of things still to do is still piling up.


Alex Garner



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